There are Caribbean beaches, and then there are Caribbean beaches. When the Island Runaways recently touched down on the gorgeous French-Caribbean island of Martinique, we sought out one of the best loved but least touristy locales we could find. By that, I mean, of course, Anse d'Arlet.
(View from the pier. Photo (c) Zickie Allgrove.)
Located on the southwest coast of Martinique, Anse d'Arlet is a small fishing town with an outsized attraction: a spectacular strip of sand, with an unforgettable backdrop. Not only green hills, but also an incredibly quaint church. It's impossible to resist walking to the end of the long pier to get a photo, or two, or three.
The town is quiet and small, with some lovingly and brightly painted Creole houses that are picturesque in their own right. There are a few shops, a pharmacy, and bakery, but for visitors seeking sun and sand, it's all about the waterfront. Soft, pale beige sand leads to pale, perfectly clear aqua blue ocean.
(Pale blue ocean. Photo (c) Laura Albritton.)
You will want to bring a mask and snorkel (masque et touba in French!) to explore the rocks and soft coral that are designated by four floating buoys. Shimmering parrot fish, blue-headed wrasses, starfish, sergeant majors, snapper, and many more creatures swim in large numbers. Normally, you'd need to head out to a reef to see such an amazing diversity, but here, it's accessible to anyone who can swim and don a pair of goggles.
(One half of Anse d'Arlet. Photo (c) Laura Albritton.)
Despite its lovely scenery and gentle waters, Anse d'Arlet suffers from none of the overdevelopment that sometimes plagues beaches of outstanding beauty. There are some simple "lolos," that is, little restaurants with classic Antillean dishes such as poulet boucané (chicken cooked over a barbecue) and poulet Colombo (chicken in a curry sauce), not to mention whole fried vivaneau (snapper) and Lionfish. (The invasive and predatory Lionfish are menacing Caribbean reefs and fisheries. They taste delicious, so we need to eat lots of them!) You can eat with your feet literally in the sand, and enjoy an excellent meal and a beer, 'Ti Punch, or a glass of French rosé. Absolute bliss!
(Bliss on Anse d'Arlet. Selfie (c) Laura Albritton.)
The smile on my face says it all! We love this place so much we had to return for a second experience. It's a special beach on a very special island. If you get the chance to visit Martinique, don't miss it. Travelers tip: In high season (late winter/early spring), parking can be tough. Come early. In summer, however, no problem! For travelers who love authentic island runaways, Anse d'Arlet is not to be missed.
Laura Albritton is one of the directors of Island Runaways, an island travel blog. She's also the author of four books on south Florida travel and history, including the recently published Hidden History of the Florida Keys, available online from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.